Tag Archives: challenge

Read Harder Challenge 2016

I don’t do New Year Resolutions. I try to go with the thought that every day is a chance to begin afresh. Or even every minute, every second, every breath. And I am generally a bit hopeless at sticking with challenges. However, I do like to read books. I like to vary what sort of books I read but, like most people, find it easier to stick to the familiar sometimes – genres and authors I know I like. So, this year I am challenging myself to take part in the Book Riot Read Harder Challenge. Here’s the list of the challenge tasks:


I’m already making a start on “Read a book out loud to someone else” – I am reading “The Princess Bride” aloud to Rafe who, even though he is a confident reader himself, and nearly 11 years old, still likes to be read aloud to. I’m not complaining 🙂

I am also already part way through “The Corpse Reader” by Antonio Garrido, which will satisfy the challenge to “Read a book of historical fiction set before 1900”. I must admit that I would never have selected this book had it not been recommended to me by two people – a bookworm friend and also my mum. I’m not very far through but it’s quite gripping so far!

Are you planning any reading challenges this year? Have you any recommendations for books to satisfy any of the other challenges mentioned? I am always on the lookout for good books!

Happy New Year!

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Gearing up for ICAD 2013

This year, once again, I will be tackling the ICAD Challenge. After failing hopelessly to keep up with Every Day in May, you may wonder if I am capable of completing such a challenge. I know I am because I have done it before (twice). The ICAD Challenge runs from 1st June to 31st July and the idea is to create something on an index card every day. That’s it. The challenge works for me because it’s so flexible – you can do whatever you like on your index card! There are weekly prompts if you get stuck, but there is no obligation to follow them. In addition, the boys love joining in as well, which means it becomes a fun part of family life instead of something I need to carve out separate time for.

Here are some of the different index cards I created in 2012 and 2011 to give an idea of the different range of possibilities:


icad # 9 v

Fun with sharpies:

icad # 17 v

Silly stuff:

icad # 20 v

Random doodliness:

icad #51 v


icad #35 v

Fun with crayons and paints:

icad 12 june

It’s even possible to complete an index card on those less-than-creative days:

icad 25 june

So, what are you waiting for?! Get yourself a pack of index cards and JOIN IN FROM TOMORROW! You know you want to 😉

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A Free Art Pass and a Fake Coffeepot

Two more days of the Every Day in May Challenge, although eagle eyed readers may spot that I am a day behind! No worries, just an extra drawing to do today.

EDiM #7 was to draw something you got for free. My most recent treasured freebie was a three month Art Pass, which has gotten me half price tickets to see the Lichtenstein exhibition at the Tate Modern. Can’t wait!

EDiM #8 was to draw a coffeepot. Normally I like to draw from real life, but I don’t own a coffeepot so this is drawn from a photo I found online, which makes it feel a bit fake to me. I don’t really do coffee, I’m more of a tea girl myself.

EDiM #7 & #8 Free & Coffeepot

I hope you’re not getting too bored of these drawings, dear reader. I promise I will post about something else soon 🙂

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Every Day in May #1 Something Bubbly

Over at the Every Day Matters group, there is a new challenge running for May. The idea is everyone draws the same thing for each day of May. Here are the sketch assignments:

1.Draw something bubbly
2.Draw a favorite sound
3.Draw something that represents joy
4.Draw your socks
5.Draw a pine or fir tree or eucalyptus
6.Draw perfume or a scented product
7.Draw something you got for free
8.Draw a coffeepot
9.Draw a lock
10.Draw something creepy
11.Draw some gloves
12.Draw the oldest thing in your refrigerator
13.Draw a pillow
14.Draw a figurine you have.
15.Draw a pencil, your favorite if you like.
16.Draw something that scares you
17.Draw something from a first aid kit
18.Draw the palm of your left hand
19.Draw something that belongs to someone else
20.Draw your favorite drink
21.Draw the last thing you bought
22.Draw a map
23.Draw a summer joy
24.Draw something that makes you laugh
25.Draw a tote bag
26.Draw a screw
27.Draw something sticky
28.Draw a jug or pitcher
29.Draw something from a pet’s point of view
30.Draw the inside of your closet
31.Draw a houseplant

There’s a Flick group here: http://www.flickr.com/groups/edmeverydayinmay2011/ and a Facebook group here: https://www.facebook.com/groups/296443287101735/.

Wanna join in?

Here’s my first sketch for Every Day in May. As you can see, I didn’t have any champagne so went with the next best thing – washing up liquid in water 😉

edim #1 something bubbly

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A Month, a Hobby, and a Mythical Creature

I haven’t posted an update on the treasure hunt reading challenge for a while, but I have read a couple more books, crossing off two clues.


The first, for the clue of “a month” was a crime novel called “Elegy for April”, described as:

April Latimer has vanished. A junior doctor at a local hospital, she is something of a scandal in the conservative and highly patriarchal society of 1950s Dublin. Though her family is one of the most respected in the city, she is known for being independent-minded; her taste in men, for instance, is decidedly unconventional.

Now April has disappeared, and her friend Phoebe Griffin suspects the worst. Frantic, Phoebe seeks out Quirke, her brilliant but erratic father, and asks him for help. Sober again after intensive treatment for alcoholism, Quirke enlists his old sparring partner, Detective Inspector Hackett, in the search for the missing young woman. In their separate ways the two men follow April’s trail through some of the darker byways of the city to uncover crucial information on her whereabouts. And as Quirke becomes deeply involved in April’s murky story, he encounters complicated and ugly truths about family savagery, Catholic ruthlessness, and race hatred.

Both an absorbing crime novel and a brilliant portrait of the difficult and relentless love between a father and his daughter, this is Benjamin Black at his sparkling best.

I don’t read a lot of crime novels these days, as they scare me too much ;-). This one, however, I found so dull as not be worthy of any scared feelings. It is set in 1950s Dublin and my main impression was of lots of descriptions of rain, dingy bars and people smoking cigarettes. Not sure about this being the author at his “sparkling best”. Perhaps if I had read the previous two books in the series I might have felt more empathy for the characters, but as it was I struggled a bit. Ah well, that’s the “month” category ticked off. And I read something I probably wouldn’t otherwise have read, so a success in that respect.

Second up was for the “hobby you have” category, for which I read Marie Duenas’ fine novel “The Seamstress”.


Spain, 1936 and the brink of civil war.

Aged twelve, Sira Quiroga was apprenticed to a Madrid dressmaker. As she masters the seamstress’s art, her life seems to be clearly mapped out – until she falls passionately in love and flees with her seductive lover.

But in Morocco she is betrayed and left penniless. As civil war engulfs Spain, Sira finds she cannot return and so turns to her one true skill – and sews beautiful clothes for the expat elite and their German friends.

With Europe rumbling towards war, Sira is lured back to Franco’s Nazis-friendly Spain. She is drawn into the shadowy world of espionage, rife with love, intrigue and betrayal.

And where the greatest danger lies. . .

This was much more gripping. There’s history, espionage, doomed romance, wonderful friendships and even beautiful descriptions of fabrics. Yep, a much more satisfying read and definitely recommended, if you can face picking up a book of 600 plus pages 😉

I have now started reading Tracy Chevalier’s “The Lady and the Unicorn” which should nicely fit the clue of “mythical creature”.

If you don’t have a “clue” what I’m talking about, read my first post about the challenge here.

And as always, if you have any recommendations for any of the categories I have left, then feel free to share them. These are the remaining treasures to hunt:

Something you’d find in space
Geological formation
A colour

A farmyard animal
A type of building
An illness
A country
A girl’s name
A boy’s name
A body of water
A mode of transportation
A kind of food
A kind of drink
A flower
A hobby you don’t have
Something made of metal
Something made of wood
Something made of plastic
A toy or game
A family relationship
A number
A shape
Something you don’t like
Something scientific
A question mark
A bird
A time of day

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Reading Treasures

I have made a start on the Treasure Hunt Reading Challenge (see original post here). I have read a couple of books towards it so far.

First up, for the category of “a precious stone” I read The Girl with a Pearl Earring by Tracy Chevalier.

girl pearl earring

Although I didn’t think this would be my sort of book, I really enjoyed it. I loved the descriptions of the painting process, and have always had something of a fascination with maids (maybe since knowing that my own great grandmother went into service at the age of 14). There was an edgy feel to the book, in as much as there was a certain dreadful inevitability about Griet’s fate, and I felt Chevalier paced this beautifully.

The second book I have read so far for the challenge was for the category of “a zoo animal”. I read The Tiger’s Wife by Tea Obreht.

tigers wife

You know when you read a book and you feel like you ought to like it, but just don’t – that’s how I felt about this one. While I could appreciate the language, the imagery, the integrated fables, I just didn’t feel any kind of emotional connection with the characters. The book left me a bit cold if I’m honest.

I am now starting on my third book for the challenge, for the category “colour”, and it’s My Name is Red by Orham Pamuk. I have high hopes for this one, but have only just started it, so it’s too early too call 😉

my name is red

For more ideas on books with colours in the title, check out Daire’s post here.

Thanks to my husband, I now have a few more books lined up for the challenge. He came home last week and mentioned that a colleague had cleared out their bookshelves and brought in a box full of books they no longer wanted. Naturally, I sent him off with my list, and he came back with these gems:

three more books

For the category “profession” was Memoirs of a Geisha.
For the category “a kind of food” or “number” was Five Quarters of the Orange.
And, my favourite interpretation of all, for the category “something you don’t like” was Voices After Midnight! I am definitely no owl 🙂

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Hunting Treasure

Regular readers will know that I looooove books.

Like many people, I suspect, I do tend to read books that I know are “me” – that are by authors I know, or are similar to other books I have read. So, when I saw this challenge by Daire of Doing it the Open Way, I thought this might be just the thing to get me reading a wider variety of things, and taking a risk on books I might not otherwise have tried. Here’s how Daire describes the challenge:

Basically I’m going to give you a list of topics, and you have to read a book with each of those things in the title. (I’ll be doing it too). There is no time limit for this challenge, and there will be no prize, it is simply a whimsical way to get through those stacks of books you’ve ‘always’ intended on reading.

Below is the list of scavenger clues. I’ve already started thinking about books I might read for each of the clues, and these are in italics. If you have any great books to recommend that would fit into any of the categories, then give me a shout 🙂

Something you’d find in space
Geological formation
A colour
My Name is Red (Orhan Pamuk)
A farmyard animal
A zoo animal The Tiger’s Wife (Tea Obreht)
A type of building
A profession
An illness
A month November (Flaubert)
A country
A girl’s name Naomi (Jun’ichirō Tanizaki)
A boy’s name
A body of water Wide Sargasso Sea (Jean Rhys)
A mode of transportation
A kind of food Quite a Year for Plums (Bailey White)
A kind of drink The Color of Tea (Hannah Tunnicliffe)
A feeling
A flower Black Orchid (Neil Gaiman)
A hobby you have
A hobby you don’t have
Something made of metal
Something made of wood
Something made of plastic
A toy or game
A family relationship
A number
A mythical creature
A shape
Something you’d wear
Something you don’t like
Something scientific
A question mark
A precious stone
A bird
A time of day#

What fun!!

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Day Three: Opening the Toybox

30 Days of Get Your Ar On

Day Three of the challenge sees me doing some drawing with the boys. It’s been a while since we took part in Sketch Tuesday, but we were all quite keen to tackle this week’s assignment, which was to draw something you find in a toybox.

Gman (12) went with some Lego minifigures:

lego revenge - rock & scar

Waif (7) pulled out some cuddly toys:

toybox - r

And I drew part of a toy castle:


I made use of the Inktense pencils plus water again, and I love the effect. Inktense pencils are the new love of my life 🙂

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30 Days of Get Your Art On

30 Days of Get Your Ar On

Today is the last day of Daisy Yellow’s Daily Paper Prompts…so I’m looking for a new challenge. I have decided to join in with Traci Bunker’s 30 Days of Get Your Art On Challenge. The challenge is to make art every day, the rules are up to you.

Here are my rules. I challenge myself to:

  • make art every day
  • spend a minimum of 15 minutes on art (preferably longer)
  • post about the art I make

The art I make can take any form eg doodling, art journalling, drawing, sewing, quilting. Anything creative, whether it’s with paint & paper, or fabric & thread. It doesn’t matter what I do, and I don’t need to finish what I work on the same day – the point is to just do something. Watch this space to see what it is 🙂

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61 Days Later!

icad # 61 v

Phew! We made it. An index card every single day from 1st June to 31st July.

To check out all our icads, you can look at my Flickr set here:


The boys are keen to continue producing index card art, but I have struggled the last few weeks to find the time or to feel inspired, so I think I may just stop, give myself a pat on the back for completing the challenge, and move on to other creative pursuits, like my poor, neglected quilting hobby ;-). Tammy is continuing throughout August with a Daily Paper Prompt, which you can read about here. I may dip in and out of this.

It’s been fun but I’m ready to stop now!!

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